Friday, June 6, 2008

Checking the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Checking the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

By Joaquin Cienfuegos

(Revolutionary Autonomous Communities, Cop Watch LA – GC)

“It was unfortunate, and we are indignant at the manner in which the police decided to deal with a group of people who were causing disturbances. These were young anarchists who often join our marches, who in every single march in the past in Los Angeles —this is the seventh May Day march [inaudible] have been isolated away from the crowd.”

Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA) on Democracy Now, May 2nd, 2007 explaining what happened at the May Day March.

“Well, there was the march. The march was a peaceful march. And then at the end of the march there was like a rally in MacArthur Park . It was a big sign of unity, lots of families, lots of community, vendors, music. And then, there was a small group of people that started kind of taunting the police. And when I say “small,” I mean very small. I think it was a maximum of fourteen young people. And I think it started with just a few kids, and these were teenagers, and they were literally just kind of making comments back and forth and just sort of, you know, yelling things at the police.

And the police were not really doing anything about this. The organizers approached the police and asked them, why not separate this small group, isolate them, because they’re disturbing everybody else that’s having this, you know, peaceful event. And at the same time, there were speakers. As I was saying before, there was music. So there were a lot of people that weren’t even aware of this small group.”

Anike Tourse, Communications Coordinator for CHIRLA was on Democracy Now May 1st, 2008 blaming young people for the police repression on May Day 2007.

On May 1st 2007, Cop Watch Los Angeles was asked by the Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network (MIWON) to help observe the police at their annual May Day Immigrant Rights March. Based on the work and the politics of the organization we agreed to participate, to put our bodies and our cameras on the line for the people who resist the injustices of the U.S. Empire. We were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, and on this day we were witness, yet again, to another crime inflicted on the people by the Los Angeles Police Department.

In Cop Watch LA, we understand that the role of the police is to serve and protect the interests of rich-white-males and their power structure. We have witnessed police terrorize our communities on a daily basis, murdering babies and children like Suzie Lopez Pena and Devin Brown. They round up migrant working class people and split-up their families, yet this system profits off their super-exploitation. This is nothing new for the people in communities like South Central, Compton , Watts , and Pico Union (where the march on May Day 2007 took place). The police act like an occupying army in the neo-colonies. The police are enemies of the oppressed people, and there is no way we will create any relationship with any agents of the state who kill, beat-down, lock-up, round-up and deport any of our people.

On May 1st, 2007 we saw the police provoke people by running their motorcycles and bicycles into the crowd of people who were marching. We saw them almost run over a young girl in the streets, and push young people who were there to speak-out, not to agitate the crowd. What we didn’t see was young people throwing rocks and bottles at the police to provoke them into attacking innocent people. Regardless, rocks and bottles do not compare to rubber bullets, riot gear, batons, tear gas, guns, helicopters, motorcycles which were some of the weapons used on the people on May 1st, 2007. What we did see was young people linking arms and standing between the police and innocent families and children (some of those young people are members or supporters of Cop Watch LA). We also saw young people getting children out the way of police harm. Then we saw Victor Narro, in a green legal observer hat, and along with another green hat, doing the job of the police instead of observing the police. They went on the cop’s bull horn and told people to comply, move to the sidewalk, and follow the orders of the police. This was done after the police attacked people, and people decided to defend themselves. For Cop Watch LA, our priority was to get families and children out of the way of police bullets and batons, we don’t feel we should dictate how people choose to struggle or express themselves. We were there to observe the police and to stand with the people not to pacify them.

After the march and police repression, the police blamed a small group of agitators, who were young, anarchists and in Cop Watch LA. They used labels like anarchist to divide the movement, and to isolate the youth from the rest of the community. At the same time they tried to wipe their hands clean of their assault. We heard stories from local residents that they saw the police practicing and preparing before the march by McArthur Park (where the attacked occurred). This attack was premeditated by the LAPD and the state because they wanted to intimidate the families that were out there marching. They wanted to beat their message into people that they should not dare to stand up to the system. The reality is that these fascists are afraid of the growing movement and the potential of a revolutionary popular movement for human rights, so they had to attack it. Again, this wasn’t a surprise to us.

What was a surprise was that some of the organizations that invited us to be part of the march came out with the same position of the police. Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Victor Narro the director of the UCLA Labor Center , came out and blamed Cop Watch LA, young people, and anarchists. Angelica Salas was on Democracy Now on May 2nd 2007 and Anike Tourse was on Democracy Now on May 1st, 2008 blaming anarchists and a group of young people. Their solution to the problem was that the LAPD isolate them from the rest of the group and arrest them. Instead of being in solidarity with the people who were under attack by the state, they chose to further criminalize the youth. On May 17th, 2007 this same organization helped to organize a march in McArthur Park where the LAPD Chief William Bratton and the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke. This whole march was used as a public relations campaign for the LAPD. CHIRLA and others apologized for the police and had these two criminals speak at a rally. These are the people who are responsible for the type of policing in our neighborhoods. In fact, Villaraigosa at the time of the march was in El Salvador , hoping to train police out there on similar tactics on terrorizing young people in particular and communities in general. For the May 1st march this year in 2008, Angelica Salas and CHIRLA members were in the media talking about how they would be working closely with the chief of police and the LAPD to help isolate problem protestors. How are we supposed to trust organizations that work with the police, criminalize young people, apologize for the state, have a relationship with the sell-out mayor, but say they’re fighting on our side?

To us this was a clear example of the role of the non-governmental-organizations that are rooted in the non-profit-industrial-complex. These organizations are so dependant on the institutions of the state that they end becoming institutions of the state themselves. They might provide resources to our communities, but at what cost? At the cost of turning us over to the police when we choose to rise up and rebel?

After May 1st 2007 Cop Watch LA and the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities was part of an ad-hoc network called the People’s Network in Defense of Human Rights. We issued demands on the LAPD, as well as a letter to CHIRLA, and other organizations who blamed the people for the police attack on May Day. CHIRLA has never responded and apologized for those accusations made against us. In fact, when I asked Angelica for a public apology after a “McArthur Park Police Task Force” meeting, she said that a public apology is not necessary and would be counter-productive. Along with Victor Narro, they continued to blame us for what happened. When in actuality Angelica Salas was on the stage inside the park during the confrontation with the police, so she couldn’t have seen anything from there.

We can’t depend on the system and these organizations to free us. Depending on corporations and foundations for resources is not real autonomy, self-organization, or self-determination. The non-profit-industrial complex was created to keep people within the framework of this system, where they still have us begging for crumbs instead of taking what is rightfully ours. The grassroots is a threat to the poverty pimps, because if people become revolutionaries, that means they lose their foundation money and their pay checks. So, on the one hand we have to hold these people accountable if they’re saying their fighting in our interests, and on the other we have to build without a dependence on the white supremacist-patriarchal-capitalist-imperialist system.

All Power Through the People!

For The Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Newsletter #2

The Revolutionary Autonomous Communities is working on a speaking tour where they’re screening a documentary of May 1st 2007 called: “We’re Still Here, We never Left! Todavia Aqui Estamos, Nunca Nos Fuimos.” More information will be sent out soon.


jadtbfcass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jadtbfcass said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "non-profit industrial", because the article didn't discuss industry at all, so, I'll assume it's just a clever name.

What is really described, is an "immigrant advocate - police complex". These immigrant advocate nonprofits are nothing if the immigrant communities won't work with them. In order to gain support, they need to prevent the police from harassing (or worse, working with ICE to deport members of) the community.

These nonprofits, by framing the conflict as one between anarchists and police, rather than police and immigrants, let the police get away with their violence.

That's the "complex". It's a negative relationship, where the more powerful members of a coalition of oppressed sell-out the least powerful groups, in order to curry the favor of the police.

The goal is to develop a long-term relationship with the police, so they won't agree to cooperate with ICE to help deport undocumented workers (who make up a part of the labor movement). The police will tend to cooperate, because their primary interest is to get home alive while doing less work, and, often, their main adversaries are street gangs, not undocumented workers.

The goal after that police riot, however, was not so simple. The cops have within their ranks, many with strong anti-immigrant or anti-undocumented-immigrant sentiments. The police riot was an organized expression of those frustrated police. The goal of the non-profits was to neutralize them, and the shortest way to that was to get Bratton to silence the internal dissent. If the non-profits blamed the police, there would be no way to get Bratton to cooperate.

Bratton as the most liberal police chief to hit Los Angeles. The non-profits can't afford to lose him as an ally.

The nonprofits did a little political calculation, probably instinctively and not necessarily maliciously, and determined that the anarchists lacked political clout, but were ideologically bound to support the nonprofits positions. A real issue for anarchists is: how to avoid being placed in this disempowered situation again.

Bubbles said...

Hi my name is Aaron and I am originially from Houston, Texas but I living in olympia Washington as of now. i am moving to Los Angeles in Mid July for an internship. i came across your story at Indymedia and I am just trying to get intouch with you as to somewhy make contact with people doing the kind of things that I am into. I will be interning with the labor union Unite Here in LA, but that is definatly not the direction I want to go. The seem to have made this labor+police=capital accord that is all amped on restoring the middle class. I am not down with that at all and I feel i wont last if i am talking about worker controlled worker owned. Ya know. Also i dont want you to think I am a Cop, so I am going to put my info out their for you to contact me if you feel like. this is my blog.

and my email is



jadtbfcass said...

Despite what I wrote, I would recommend trying out the internship. Within the labor movement, UNITE HERE are considered very progressive. At the very least, you'll learn what the edge of the progressive liberals end, and where the more radical politics begin. It will also give you an idea of how radical the people really can be.